‘Un-Australian’ scalpers stockpile coronavirus supplies
RETAIL king Gerry Harvey has offered to bankroll Australian suppliers, as consumers face shortages of medicines, masks and electronic goods made in China where the coronavirus has forced factories to shut.
The Australian entrepreneur, who is executive chairman of electronics and homewares store Harvey Norman and furniture retailer Domayne, said Australia relies too much on imports.
He said he was "patriotic'' and would offer interest-free loans for a year to help his Australian furniture and bedding suppliers expand Aussie-made production.
"There are no television makers, fridge makers and now no car makers,'' he told The Courier-Mail.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for (Australian manufacturers) to build their business - they can compete better with imports and that will be better for the whole Australian economy.
"They pay taxes, create jobs and grow the economy.
"If the government doesn't help, I will - I'll lend the money to the Australian companies we deal with.''
Mr Harvey's pledge came as panicked shoppers raided supermarkets and chemists for groceries and medicines.
An angry Queensland cleaning and catering wholesaler yesterday blasted the "disgraceful un-Australian behaviour'' of scalpers stockpiling supplies of masks, toilet paper and shoe covers.
"This is disgraceful behaviour that cruels small business in this country and prevents the right people getting the goods they need,'' Croft Group managing director David Croft said.
One importer, Universal Choice, has increased the price of shoe covers - needed in the food and medical industries - tenfold.
In an email to Croft Group, a Universal Choice manager said prices had increased due to stock shortages and scalping.
"We regret to advise that we have been targeted by professional scalpers who have bought huge amounts of these items such as face masks, swabs, shoe cover and other protective wears and sanitary items,'' the email says.
"We have depleted around 90 per cent of our stock due to this and have only about 10 per cent remaining.
"We can no longer afford to have this situation and have adjusted the prices and set daily quantity limit to deter scalpers.
"Our qualified overseas factories have advised that their production has been reserved by their government and therefore we are not receiving more stock until further notice.''
Mr Croft said yesterday he and his customers could not afford to pay ten times the usual price for products, and would look for other suppliers.
Supermarkets and chemists slapped quotas on purchases of medicines, hand sanitiser, toilet paper and rice yesterday as shoppers stripped their shelves of grocery staples.
The Chinese coronavirus shutdowns are also causing problems for information technology companies, with Apple warning of some shortages while Telstra notified customers yesterday that "some of our NBN orders are currently experiencing minor hardware delivery delays''.